MSTV, NAB to Create D-A Converter

NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) have teamed up to develop a prototype of a digital to analog converter box for terrestrial digital TV reception. The groups will solicit proposals from the consumer electronics industry to build the box. The prototype could be used as a blueprint for future products from manufacturers to serve broadcast-only TV sets. The organizations hope to have a working prototype by the end of the year.

MSTV President David Donovan said low cost is critical but the boxes must also be consumer friendly and work well. Outgoing NAB President Eddie Fritts, echoed this sentiment and said a low cost box is vital to the success of the digital transition. Congress is currently weighing the pros and cons of offering subsidized converter boxes to low-income and elderly TV households to accelerate the analog shutoff.

CEA President Gary Shapiro, who has become increasingly testy with broadcasters over the last several months, ridiculed the move as a "solution in search of a problem."

"This publicity stunt is novel considering that no one before has suggested any problem with creating a simple digital to analog convert box," Shapiro said. "The issue is market demand. No one sells the product in the U.S. today as most local broadcasters do not have full-power HDTV broadcasts and only 11 percent of TV sets are even used to receive over the air (OTA) broadcasting."

The RFQ will be available the week of June 20. To get a copy of the RFQ, send an e-mail to